Basketball Jonesin’: Thursday’s Thoughts (Iconic Video Included)

Ran into an actual honest to Betsy U of L basketball insider last evening.

His credential: The Rick invited him in to watch the team practice. He was the only non-program person in the gym.

Impressive. A FORWP (Friend of Rick With Portfolio.)

I also learned quickly why he maintains that status. When I asked, “Okay, off the record, honest, what’s the deal with Behanan and Ware?”

To which query, he smiled and remained mute. It was obvious he knew something, but knew he wasn’t going to say a thing about it.

“Okay, just tell me this. Is it serious team turmoil?”

His response indicated it was not.

He did comment on how truly competitive the practice was, how the players really got after each other. And how excited Pitino is about this team.

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I, on the other hand, am but one of the majority of local media who are allowed to watch practice on only the most rare of occasions. So what I’m about to opine comes without any foreknowledge.

Were I a betting man, I’d wager that Russ Smith soon enough will become a sixth man again. He’s listed in this morning’s C-J as a probable starter tonight against Pikeville. If one of this trio — Blackshear or Ware or Nunez — doesn’t earn a starting berth with his play, this team will not become the one fans hope it to be.

Smith is the absolute incarnation of Microwave Vinnie Johnson, a guy who can come in cold and immediately make things happen. You know, a catalyst.

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While making fun the other day of UK’s exhi opponent tonight, Northwood, I, as usual, didn’t dig deep research-wise.

The team is apparently an NAIA power and is coached by vagabond Rollie Massimino. Who, as any real fan knows, won a national title in the biggest championship game upset ever. Nova over Georgetown, right there in Rupp Arena.

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I actually watched a few moments of NBA ball last night. Understand it was for training purposes only. I didn’t want to head to the Yum! tonight without any conditioning whatsoever.

And for some reason, I was curious whether Samardo Samuels remains a Cleveland Cavalier? Which he does. Every once in awhile I do check some facts.

He is earning $854,389/ season. Which, while way more than I ever earned, or most Americans earn in a lifetime let alone a year, is not much over the league minimum being earned by two of his teammates less fortunate than him. Meanwhile teammate Luke Walton is taking home $6 million +, Anderson Varejao, over $8 mill and PG extraordinaire Kyrie Irving, $5 mill +.

Former future U of L playmaking star Sebastian Telfair is now warming the bench in Phoenix for $1.5 million a year.

To finish this little journey, I advise that Francisco Garcia is the third highest paid Sacramento King at $6.1 million a year. Let me also advise I stand by my belief that his greatest moment as a Cardinal occurred when he returned to the bench and while listening to some instructions from Rick Pitino, reached over and straightened the immaculate coach’s tie.

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While the Cardinals are being heralded in the pre-season as one of the top 3 teams in the land, two well regarded numbers gurus have them slotted a bit lower. Ken Pomery places them at #8, behind in order, UK, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, UCLA and Syracuse.

Hmm, four Big Ten teams in the top 8.

Dan Hanmer, whose computer model is being recognized as the most complete ever, posits the Cardinals 10th in the nation. Interesting, his computer places the Badgers 33d.

But one thing we’ve learned, the only numbers that matter are the ones generated on that 94 x 50 rectangle of hardwood.

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Love that Western Kentucky’s big game tonight with Middle Tennessee has a late ESPNU kickoff. 9:15 Louisville time. So we’ll be able to watch either the Cats or the Cards or both, then catch the Toppers.

– Seedy K


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